Features // Europe

Azores on film: why you need to explore this amazing archipelago
Azores on film: why you need to explore this amazing archipelago

Strung out in the mid-Atlantic, 1500km off the coast of Portugal, is a chain of nine breathtaking islands. These are the Azores, a volcanic archipelago thrust up from the seabed at the intersection of the Eurasian, North American and African plates. Home to around 250,000 people, the lush islands hide glassy lakes, towering waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and flower-filled meadows. If you’re looking…

Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop
Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop

Bobby’s mullet blows in the wind as he pilots his dinky motorcycle down Copenhagen‘s cobbled backstreets. Wobbling past kebab shops and contemporary design stores on his way to work, he looks like a living relic from a bygone era: the 1980s. A turtleneck peeks out from beneath his blue denim jacket, which perfectly matches the…

Video: couple captures the romance of Norway’s wild storms
Video: couple captures the romance of Norway’s wild storms

If howling winds and unrelenting rains aren’t your idea of a romantic break, then perhaps this isn’t the trip for you. But watch this video, and it might change your mind… Norway‘s rugged coastline is battered by wild storms every winter, but that doesn’t mean adventure, and even a bit of romance, isn’t possible – as…

Trail-running in the stunning Swedish countryside
Trail-running in the stunning Swedish countryside

Ros Walford goes leaping over granite rocks to give you the lowdown on Sweden’s only coastal trail-running race.  What is this strangely named Icebug Xperience? It has nothing to do with ice – nor bugs, fortunately. It’s actually a three-day 74-km coastal trailrunning and hiking event organised by a Swedish company called Icebug. The event…

Aarhus: a weekend in Denmark’s happiest city
Aarhus: a weekend in Denmark’s happiest city

Copenhagen’s cool credentials are known around the world, but Denmark’s second city has so far kept just under the radar. This won’t last for long, though – people are starting to cotton on that Århus (or Aarhus) is a compact, accessible city (not to mention a young, happy and well-fed one) with more than enough…

Austria’s KäseStrasse: the hike that’s a cheese-lover’s dream
Austria’s KäseStrasse: the hike that’s a cheese-lover’s dream

Despite the name, Bregenzerwald’s KäseStrasse (Cheese Street) in Austria’s Vorarlberg region is not a marked route along a specific road. Instead it denotes an association of cheese-related industries – around 200 partners in all – that are united in cultivating, maintaining and promoting the highest standards of regional cheese production. Visitors can gain insights about cheese and other regional food production…

The romance of Paris captured in 18 photographs
The romance of Paris captured in 18 photographs

Originally from Mumbai, India, I lived in Paris for five years. Like everyone who comes here for the first time, Paris to me was the city of romance – the smell of fresh bread in the mornings, farmer’s markets on weekends, couples kissing along little cobbled streets, bicycles everywhere, plenty of sky, and that soft, yellow glow…

On the trail of Klimt in Vienna: the art tour of a lifetime
On the trail of Klimt in Vienna: the art tour of a lifetime

Known for its lavish balls and even more lavish cakes, Vienna is overflowing with art. If there’s one image that encapsulates the city, it’s of an elegant, gold-clad muse staring out at the viewer with an unsettling beauty. No, not Conchita Wurst, but the women of Gustav Klimt’s paintings. A tour of his artworks not only takes you to Vienna’s…

360° video: up close and personal with Iceland’s Strokkur geyser
360° video: up close and personal with Iceland’s Strokkur geyser

Feeling far away from the natural wonders of Iceland? You’re about to feel a lot closer. Welcome to 360° virtual reality, where you can look where you want, when you want, as the video plays in real time.  After hitting play, either click and drag on the video to take control of its camera (on desktop) or tilt…

On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland
On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland

See a picture of Skye, suspect computer enhancement. That’s just how it works until you get there. Then you cross the bridge, and slowly it dawns on you – Skye really does look like another world. The grass really is that emerald green (that’ll be the rain), the mountains really are that sheer, the water…

Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks
Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

On the face of it, Scandinavia isn’t a very sensible place for a holiday. For one thing, it’s almost always going to be colder than the place you’re leaving behind. And when it comes to basics like food and accommodation, it’s probably more expensive too. But if you don’t mind throwing a few warm jumpers…

Discover Berlin’s biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea
Discover Berlin’s biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea

Carved balconies like lace, swaggering villas in spacious gardens and an absurdly long pier. Who would have expected “Herring Village” to be so glitzy? Indeed, who would have imagined such Bäderarchitektur (spa architecture) in a backwater like Usedom, a little-known island in the Baltic Sea? Yet during the latter half of the nineteenth century, as German aristocracy went crazy for…

A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences
A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences

There’s nowhere quite like Scotland. This epic land of mighty mountains, plunging glens and surging rivers offers a sweep of experiences that you just cannot find anywhere else. If you’ve ever wanted to have your own kilt fitted, canoe down a river fuelled by a wee dram or hop on Europe’s only scheduled flight to land…

Bee tourism in Slovenia: the travel trend with plenty of buzz
Bee tourism in Slovenia: the travel trend with plenty of buzz

You’ve probably never heard of apitourism, or even considered “bee tourism” to be a thing. But it is, and it’s a travel trend swarming all over Slovenia. While bee populations in countries such as the US are dwindling at an alarming rate, Slovenia is the only EU member state to have officially protected its prized…

21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon
21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon

Iceland‘s landscapes look different from every angle and at every time of day. Whether it’s a late-morning sunrise in the middle of winter, or the aurora borealis dancing in the skies above a glassy lake, the country produces vistas that make even the most travel-weary adventurers say “wow”. The climate can be challenging, but the rewards are plenty –…

In pictures: Wales hosts Europe’s largest Elvis Presley festival
In pictures: Wales hosts Europe’s largest Elvis Presley festival

Last week, Porthcawl in South Wales hosted Europe’s biggest gathering of Elvis Presley lookalikes. This annual festival sees the small seaside town flooded with Elvis fans and tribute acts for a weekend-long rock ‘n’ roll romp. The action culminates on Saturday night at the The Elvies award show, “the World’s leading award show for Elvis Tribute Artists”, with awards dished out for the…

8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight
8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight

Serbia’s capital is always on the move – a constantly changing scene of new bars and restaurants alongside old favourites. After a scorching hot summer, temperatures are now perfect for getting the most out of the city’s lively café culture and Eastern Europe’s best nightlife. Here are a few reasons why Belgrade is a hidden…

9 of the best road trips in Europe
9 of the best road trips in Europe

From the sunny shores of Portugal to the darkest dungeons of Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, the following itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or altered to suit your wayfaring tastes. If you’ve got wheels, wanderlust and a spot of time, here’s some adventure fuel. Start your engines: these are the best road trips in Europe.…

Exploring London’s hidden waterways
Exploring London’s hidden waterways

Go to Venice or Amsterdam, and you can hardly cross a street without tumbling into a canal. In London, you have to dig deeper. You’re looking for the Regent’s Canal, which stretches from chichi Maida Vale to Thames-side Limehouse, and cutting past London Zoo’s aviaries, Camden’s pop kids, Islington restaurants and Hackney high-rises on its way. Built…

Rotterdam: 8 reasons to visit the Netherlands’ second city
Rotterdam: 8 reasons to visit the Netherlands’ second city

Rotterdam has the confident vibe of a place on the up. Amsterdam might still be the brightest beacon for travellers to the Netherlands, but a host of exciting new attractions are putting this southern city on the map. Last year, Rotterdam Central railway station and the Markthal, a market hall and apartment complex whose arched…

Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break
Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break

It was not too long ago that Lisbon was often dismissed as the unfashionable capital of Portugal, the ‘Poor Man of Europe’. This was harsh on a city that spectacularly straddles the River Tejo with a flurry of old world architecture, rich African cultural influences and a notoriously wild nightlife scene. Today, savvy city breakers…

The best pizza joints in Naples
The best pizza joints in Naples

Where better to eat pizza than in the city where it was invented? Naples’ most affordable food is also its most sacred; a local saying goes “you can insult my mother but never my pizzamaker”. You can’t come to the city without trying an authentic crusty pizza, baked rapidly in a searingly hot wood-fired oven…

Paris is going car-free next week
Paris is going car-free next week

In a ground-breaking eco initiative, Paris is going car-free for the first time. Next week, on Sunday the 27th September, cars will be banned from the centre of the city from 11am to 6pm. Despite the well-known Velib cycle-sharing scheme, Pais is struggling with pollution. The organisers hope the project will galvanise residents to think about how they are shaping the future…

7 reasons why Cologne could be Germany’s coolest city
7 reasons why Cologne could be Germany’s coolest city

If you’re looking for a city with fairytale architecture and gas-lit cobbled alleyways, you should probably stop reading now. Book a flight to Prague or Paris and be done with it. For Cologne (or Köln), is at first glance underwhelming in its postwar geometricity, with more busy roads than pedestrianised ones and only one blockbuster sight…

6 reasons to visit Edinburgh outside of the Fringe
6 reasons to visit Edinburgh outside of the Fringe

It’s that time of year again: Edinburgh has taken off its Festival face and the Fringe has finally petered out of our social media feeds. After a month-long celebration of all things arts, culture and creativity, the city can go back to sleep. Or can it? It’s not all about the Fringe in Scotland’s capital…

24 pictures that will make you marvel at northern Italy
24 pictures that will make you marvel at northern Italy

After a two-and-a-half-month research trip for the next edition of the Rough Guide to Italy, Kiki Deere shares some of her stunning pictures of northern Italy.  My trip took me across northern Italy, from the Western Alps to the Slovenian border. In Piedmont I strolled the pretty Baroque streets of Turin, and sampled some of the…

In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships
In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships

In August 2015 the world’s finest athletes gathered in one place to push their bodies to the limits. No, we’re not talking about the Beijing World Championships, we’re talking about the 30th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships. By Peter Barnett © www.focusdisplay.co.uk That’s right. Last weekend around 150 competitors from across the globe assembled at Waen…

The best pubs in Ireland for traditional music
The best pubs in Ireland for traditional music

If the Irish didn’t invent the pub, they’ve certainly espoused its cause with great vigour. The pub retains a pivotal place in Irish society. It’s the place where stories are narrated, deals and pacts are made, jokes are told and traditional music is heard. During the 1990s, the “Irish pub” concept (albeit with “authentic” period…

A bar in London wants you to get tipsy by inhaling a cloud of gin
A bar in London wants you to get tipsy by inhaling a cloud of gin

Drinking alcohol is so passé. In 2015 London, it’s all about inhaling vapourised booze through your lungs and eyeballs. Set in the basement of an ancient monastery near Borough Market, Alcoholic Architecture is the latest installation from Willy Wonka-esque design firm Bompas and Parr, who have previously made an entire steamship out of jelly and…

Win a walking holiday for two in Tuscany
Win a walking holiday for two in Tuscany

This competition is now closed. We’re giving away a walking holiday in Tuscany for two in our latest competition with FrancigenaWays.com. If you’re dreaming of olive groves, vineyards and quaint little hill-towns, this is the trip for you. Tuscany is in many ways the essence of Italy – and there are few better ways to explore the…

Glasgow: an insider’s guide
Glasgow: an insider’s guide

Anthony Bourdain controversially characterised Glasgow as somewhere to go ‘’for a beer and a beating” in his TV show Parts Unknown. Bourdain poked good-natured fun at the city’s notoriety, where the drinking culture looms large and the language is colourful; it’s a rep that Glasgow has battled with for decades. However, Bourdain also represented its…

Tomato warfare: Spain hosts the world’s biggest food fight this week
Tomato warfare: Spain hosts the world’s biggest food fight this week

Thousands of people. Truckloads of tomatoes. The world’s biggest food fight. In case you didn’t realise, this is Grade A bucket list material. In the last week of August in the in the Valencian town of Buñol, cheering crowds assemble around a tall greased pole erected in the Plaza del Pueblo. A hoofed leg of pork…

16 pictures that capture the freedom of the Lake District
16 pictures that capture the freedom of the Lake District

Professional photographer Jon Sparks takes us on a visual tour of his homeland with these gorgeous pictures of the Lake District.  They reckon more words have been written about the Lake District than any other area of comparable size on Earth – except perhaps a few of the great cities. Artists and photographers have flocked…

9 special places to stay in Andalucía
9 special places to stay in Andalucía

The southernmost territory of Spain, Andalucía is the part of the Iberian peninsula that is most quintessentially Spanish. The popular image of Spain as a land of flamenco, sherry and ruined castles derives from this spectacularly beautiful region. Andalucía’s manageable size also makes it easy to take in something of each of its elements – inland cities,…

Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster
Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster

A swimming pool lies empty, plants encroach through broken windows, hospital bed frames are red with rust and Soviet signs and murals are faded ruins of what was once art from another world. This is Pripyat, Ukraine, and it’s been abandoned since 1986. This eerie video shot using a drone shows the near post-apocalyptic destruction caused by the…

Coffee, cocktails and communism in Bucharest
Coffee, cocktails and communism in Bucharest

It’s fair to say that Bucharest is usually given a wide berth by most travellers eager to reach the country’s more obvious sights, such as Transylvania, but this is a shame. Romania’s invigorating capital has much to commend it. Beyond the welter of concrete – which in itself has a strange allure – you’ll find…

Groningen: an ancient city with a young heart in the Netherlands
Groningen: an ancient city with a young heart in the Netherlands

Tucked away in the far northeast corner of the Netherlands is the erstwhile Hanseatic city of Groningen. Dripping in history, this charming provincial capital with bubbling arts scene is awash with green spaces, cultural attractions, fine restaurants and gabled houses reflected in the miles of scenic canals. Gilly Pickup explores this little Dutch gem.  Groningen…

15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany
15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany

Tuscany harbours the classic landscapes of Italy, familiar from a thousand Renaissance paintings, with its backdrop of medieval hill-towns, rows of cypresses, vineyards and olive groves, and artfully sited villas and farmhouses. It’s a stereotype that has long held an irresistible attraction. Nowadays Tuscany is among Italy’s wealthiest regions, but it remains predominantly rural, with great tracts of land still…

8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles
8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles

Everybody knows the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Skye. But what about the other 6000-odd British Isles? Yes, we did say 6000. From the chunky Shetland Islands in Scotland’s far north to the sunny Isles of Scilly slung out from the coast of Cornwall, the British Isles are made up of islands of all shapes and…

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey
The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport hitting an all-time record for flight traffic this July, its status as a top city-break destination has been further cemented. But what about the rest of the country? “More…

5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire
5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire

Yorkshire, it has been said, is “a country in a county”. The very name brings countless images to mind – wild moors, headlands and cliffs; rugged dales and enormous beaches; medieval cities, churches and monasteries; formal estates and vast steelworks; coal mines and woollen mills. This diversity is part of the county’s appeal – its…

A taste of Andalucía: a food lover’s tour
A taste of Andalucía: a food lover’s tour

The rich and varied cuisine of Andalucía is a reflection of its dramatic history. One of its signature dishes, gazpacho, was introduced by the romans in the first millennium BC, and didn’t reach its final version until peppers and tomatoes arrived in Spain following the voyages of Columbus. Another great influence came from the Moors…

8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK
8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK

So you’ve gawked at the guards of Buckingham Palace, hiked up Snowdon and hit the beach – what next? From lethal motorcycle races to mountain towns that look like something out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, here are 8 unconventional things to do in the UK. 1. Horse about at Scotland’s Common Ridings The Common Ridings of the Scottish border towns of Hawick, Selkirk,…

Dubrovnik: the star of the Croatian coast
Dubrovnik: the star of the Croatian coast

Lord Byron wasn’t exaggerating through an opium haze when he eulogised Dubrovnik as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. This perfectly preserved baroque former city-state is utterly, charmingly unique. It is easy to see what so beguiled the Game of Thrones producers and UNESCO’s World Heritage committee. Now, the recent influx of cafés, bars and restaurants…

Brittany: one of France’s finest foodie escapes
Brittany: one of France’s finest foodie escapes

Brittany has long been one of the jewels in France’s crown. Its beaches and holiday homes are flooded each summer by Parisians on their grandes vacances and Brits piling off cross-channel ferries. It’s easy to see why. From the rugged beauty of the northern coast to the classy beach resorts, there’s no arguing that this…

The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of
The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of

Spain is known for its costas, the sandy strands that attract thousands of visitors seeking sun and sangria every year. But most people tend to head to the big hitters: the Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava and the Costa Blanca. But of course these are just the bright and brazen names that have made…

Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era
Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era

The break-up of the Soviet Union gave the world an impressive array of new capitals. Some have since become familiar fodder on travel itineraries – think Tallinn’s Baltic charm, Kiev’s bulbous cathedrals and Riga’s drunken Brits. Others, for better or worse, remain something of a mystery. Step forward Yerevan, capital of Armenia, a city swaggering into…

10 reasons why Cardiff is one of the coolest cities in the UK
10 reasons why Cardiff is one of the coolest cities in the UK

Capital of Wales since 1955, Cardiff is unrecognisable even from just a few years ago. With an exhilarating mix of heavyweight cultural sights, exciting regeneration projects – not least the revitalized Cardiff Bay – world-class sport, a prolific music scene and some seriously banging nightlife, it’s easy to see why Cardiff now ranks alongside London…

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